zachbissett

PROMETHEUS: Or, An Argument For Piracy

In movies, writing on 10/10/2012 at 18:38

Scary.

I won’t rehash the debate about piracy of music and movies, which has been ongoing in public forums and political gatherings for over a decade. Instead I’ll describe to you what just happened to me.

I was at Target and saw a display for Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” on DVD. Having thoroughly enjoyed the movie in theaters, I decided I’d buy it. That decision immediately complicated:

1) Prometheus on DVD for $16.99.
2) Prometheus DVD/Blu-ray combo pack for $22.99
3) Prometheus 4-disc Collector’s Edition for $27.99

Collector's Edition

I don’t have a Blu-ray player, and I’m a thrift SOB, so I grabbed the DVD version. Upon closer examination I realized the DVD copy had NO special features other than an audio commentary track. Crestfallen, I looked over the combo pack. There were a few more special features, but to my dismay they were only on the Blu-ray version! Lastly, the Collector’s Edition and it’s 7+ hours of bonus content, exactly what I’d been looking for….

Unfortunately, not only is the 4-disc CE stuffed with junk like a 3D Blu-ray copy (how many people own a 3D Blu-ray TV?), there is no indication on the packaging as to what features are on which discs. After some frustrating iPhone research, it seemed I was either going to have to buy a Blu-ray player or else I was shit out of luck when it came to bonus content.

I’m going to leave morals out of the issue, because morals are easy: you get what you pay for. If I’m not going to pay for the Special Features, I have no legal or personally righteous claim to them.

But in the real world, I am a person who has been obsessed with the Alien universe for almost 20 years. I waited patiently for Fox’s proposed “Alien 5” to evolve into a Scott-directed prequel, then into a “not a prequel” prequel, and finally me and my buddies drove to the nearest IMAX theater for a midnight release because we could not wait any longer.

I ignored the script, rife with cliche and illogical character actions, and focused on the breathtaking cinematography and top-notch performances by Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, and really the entire cast. The 3D–which I don’t generally care for–was stunning.

And then a new period of waiting began, as the people at Fox compiled deleted scenes, Making-of-featurettes, etc. etc.

That wait will continue, it seems, for us non-Blu-ray owners. As of right now, the 7 hours of bonus content will cost you $30 for the movie and $80 for a player. Unless, of course, you snag the whole deal for free at the Pirate Bay. So back to the issue at hand: whether or not I can justify the piracy I will no doubt commit in the coming months to obtain this extra footage.

For me, the justification is easy. I am willing to shell out $30 for a movie I already paid $15 to see in theaters, and for the Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and Digital Copy versions that I have no use for. What I ask for, in return, is the ability to view the content I paid for on the player I already own and have no desire to “upgrade.” If my $30 doesn’t grant me access to what I want, I’ll find it elsewhere.

And technically, this is how torrents got started. Music on vinyl and video game cartridges to consoles that haven’t been made since the 60’s–torrents were designed to preserve this media digitally.

At the same time, this is exactly how Special Features were born–when people were wary about converting from VHS to DVD, the Special Features were the only concrete incentive for upgrading. It’s not a perfect parallel though, because Blu-rays have risen and fallen and risen in popularity, and they don’t seem yet poised to overthrow DVDs completely.

So there you have it. Downloading an illegal cam-rip of the new Bond flick is one thing, but what about pirating a couple deleted scenes, some interviews and early design concepts that you’ve already paid for? Is there a difference?

You tell me.

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  1. I was looking for a post like this somewhere. No one seems to have a problem with this anywhere I was looking. I searched everywhere yesterday and today trying to find something other than that horrendous DVD version. I was expecting to pay 35 dollars or so for that 4 disc set and was even okay with part of that projected expense being for a pointless for me BluRay version of the film. But then, when I walked halfway across the city to Best Buy for the 4 disc set, the DVD is only thrown in there as a “I guess we can put the digital version of the film on a DVD.”

    I was going to spend a ridiculous amount for one movie because I wanted those special features. Now, I’ll just be searching the internet for a torrent of it. BluRay means nothing to me. I don’t have a huge tv or a crazy sound system.

    I feel a bit like when the switch from VHS to DVD happened. I understand the benefits to a BluRay disc and it’s storage space but to not even offer an alternative in this period of transition is ridiculous.

    Feel free to message me if ever you find a solid torrent of those features haha

    • I will probably wait a couple weeks so I can easily find a proper DVD rip, but I will let you know.

      Either Fox or Scott himself must be all about Blu-ray, it makes no sense to create all this content and then put it on only one format. I am still paying student loans and rarely watch TV, so the little box I have is fine for now. When I movie into a house I’ll maybe get a Blu-ray, but in the meantime I need my deleted scenes!

  2. It’s a tricky dilemma. I don’t think the transition to Blu Ray is as legitimate as the transition from VHS to DVD. The quality is better, but not to such a degree that its worth re-buying. One question is how often would you watch the special features? Just once? Then it’s not worth the extra money. More than once? Maybe you should go ahead and buy it.

    • The fact that I’ll only watch the bonus content once or twice is certainly a factor, but over 7+ hours plus audio commentary on the film, that could get stretched out over a couple years, as I’m not the type to sit down and watch all that at once.

      I might pony up and get a Blu-ray, but I’m more interested in–what if I buy it, then torrent it? I’ve paid the money, received the product, then broken the law in order to watch it. Almost a chicken and egg situation.

    • The fact that I’ll only watch the bonus content once or twice is certainly a factor, but over 7+ hours plus audio commentary on the film, that could get stretched out over a couple years, as I’m not the type to sit down and watch all that at once.

      I might pony up and get a Blu-ray, but I’m more interested in–what if I buy it, then torrent it? I’ve paid the money, received the product, then broken the law in order to watch it. Almost a chicken and egg situation.

  3. it’s a bluray SLASH DVD combo pack… u don’t need a bluray player…

    • Yes but the DVD disc only contains the movie. The 7 hours of extra features are only available on the Blu-ray disc.

      Not only that, but if you buy just the combo pack, you don’t get the full set of features. You need to buy the Collector’s Edition.

      • ahhh, gotchya. i actually found, via torrent, the “boring” bonus disc w/the making of and yada yada. no one has the 4 disc collection online anywhere… sux

  4. i need those deleted scenes and the alt begin/endings before i insane

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